Time has come to stop the slaughter of the innocents

Country Living with Francis Farragher

It’s highly unlikely to be a trip I’ll ever make again but back in the late 1980s a first-ever sun holiday that nearly bored me to insanity and prompted a little dose of ‘the blues’ took a rather curious twist.

For a country lad, two weeks of doing nothing in the island of Cyprus was not the ultimate Utopia that I thought it would be and after five or six days of idleness, a three day break in Israel proved to be a very welcome diversion.

Known to most of us Christians as The Holy Land, Israel is of course steeped in historical drama and for three nights our home was a boat called the Sol Phryne (spelling subject to memory) which was docked in the port of Haifa.

The trips to all those places like The Dead Sea, Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, Mount Calvary and a visit to a Kibbutz still remain quite vivid in the mind’s eye.

There was though the darker side of things in a land torn between widely differing cultures and one of the more worrying (probably reassuring for some) was the sight of Israeli soldiers, casually drawing on a cigarette, with their rifles and submachine guns cocked at their fingertips.

The warnings, as we got on and off our boat from the person in charge of security, also set off some gentle alarm bells. We were always asked if someone had asked any of us to deliver a package or carry something on board for them with the fear of a bomb threat being the motivation for this.

Sure enough, in the months that followed this trip to Israel, news broke one morning that this same boat had been blown up while docked in the Cyprus port of Limassol – thankfully with no one aboard. Different extreme groups on either side of the fence claimed responsibility.

The ultimate irony in all of the Middle-East conflicts is that Arabs and Israeli’s alike regard Jerusalem as a sacred city and site but instead of this acting as any kind of springboard for peace, the opposite has been the case.

Pictured: Gaza: A living hell on this earth.   

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